Massena Central presents updated safety plan for review

Jefferson Elementary School students take part in an October 2015 evacuation drill. Principal Duane Richards, a member of the District Safety Team, updated the Massena Central School Board on the latest updates to the district’s safety plan. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The Massena Central School District’s updated safety plan for the 2021-22 school year is now online for public comments, which must be received before the district’s board of education is asked to adopt it during their Sept. 16 meeting.

The 48-page plan can be found at http://wdt.me/NGNheF.

Jefferson Elementary School Principal Duane Richards, a member of the District Safety Team and Jefferson Building Safety Team, said the District Safety Team is responsible for reviewing, updating or making any changes to the plan and presenting those to the board of education. The team conducts annual reviews and the board adopts the plan annually after a 30-day public comment period.

“The board officially adopted the District Safety Plan in 1999. It has every year since readopted the plan,” Mr. Richards said.

He said there were actually two plans — the district-wide plan, which defines teams and procedures, and the building-level safety plan.

“That’s really the nitty gritty when you’re responding to building-specific things. The two work hand-in-hand,” he said.

While the district safety plan is up for public review, the building-specific plans are not because they contain confidential information.

“There are certain things that we do in a building that we don’t want to necessarily say, like evacuation locations, those kinds of things. The district-wide safety plan is designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidences or emergencies,” Mr. Richards said.

He said, since the plan was last adopted, there had been “some robust changes.”

“It’s kind of filled out in some places where it may have been a bit sparse before, and that was a result of a self-assessment,” he said.

Mr. Richards said the initial plan wasn’t an easy document to follow because there was no table of contents.

“I know that seems pretty minor, but it makes the whole document much more easier to manipulate,” he said.

He said they had also done a better job in defining and identifying required team members.

“There’s quite a few teams throughout the district that are brought into the process. We have the district emergency officer which would be Mr. Brady (Superintendent Patrick H. Brady). You also have the District-Wide Safety Team, the Building Safety Team, there’s a Threat Assessment Team, District Administration Team and the Board of Education,” Mr. Richards said.

The plan also includes prevention and intervention strategies.

“It’s never been compiled this way. It’s worth taking a look at this because there’s lots of things that the district does. It’s really impressive the number of things we’ve been able to put into one document. Those things have been spelled out and defined in this new plan,” Mr. Richards said.

Also included in the updated plan is a yearly building safety tour requirement. Once a year, the superintendent will conduct building tours with the building’s principal, supervisor of buildings and grounds, day custodians and maintenance workers, who will note and address any safety issues.

“We’re trying to be proactive going through the building,” he said.

There’s also a “pretty robust resource section at the end,” Mr. Richards said. “It’s truly meant to be a place where you can go in an emergency for a variety of things.”

Reference materials include the district’s response plan and administrative contact numbers, including their cell phone numbers as well as their phone extension.

“There’s an administration emergency calling list that we would use as administrators,” he said.

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